Race season is approaching fast! It is time to step up the intensity of
the training a bit, as well as get sharp in all three disciplines of swim,
bike and run! TRANSITIONS are also a KEY component of any race, many races
are Won, or Lost by wasting precious time in transition. You can save
yourself a lot of time by following a few of the Transition Tips below…
1) Transition Set up –
***I like a clean transition area. I only have what I will need for the
race. You don’t need a bunch of stuff you will not use for the race. Put
it away if you are not using it in the race. No water buckets, no big
beach towels, etc.
***I set up my transition area with my bike shoes on the bike and I slip
into them after running barefoot to the “Mount Line”. This takes practice
(one thing anyone can practice at our weekly KP Brick Workout on
Tuesday’s). As I mount the bike, I place my foot on top of the left shoe
and mount, then place the other foot on top of the other shoe. Then I get
up to speed and slip each foot into the shoe while riding down the road.
This is the quickest way to exit transition and you won’t have to run in
your bike shoes. (Many pro’s will use a rubber-band to hold the bike shoe
up, so it doesn’t flop all around as you run the bike out. The rubber-band
is hooked on the back of the bike frame and around the front of the shoe).
***If you are not ready to put your bike shoes on the bike, then have them
open and ready to slip in. You will have to decide if you want to wear
socks, or not. I don’t wear socks for any races that are Olympic
Distance, or under. I will put on socks for races that are 1/2 Iron, or
above. I put vasoline around the inside of my bike and run shoes when I
don’t wear socks. This helps prevent blisters. I also use a Green Spenco
shoe insert (flat, no arch), that lines the bottom of my running/racing
shoes. I put it directly over the shoe insert that is in the shoe. This
also helps prevent blisters.
***Place your helmet on your bike (on aero bars if you have them on). If
you can’t get it to stay on the bike, then put it by your shoes, or where
you can get to it quickly. I put my sunglasses in the helmet and put them
on first, then the helmet. Be sure and snap the helmet on, before removing
***If it is a wetsuit swim, you should wear the bike/run top under the
wetsuit. It is much quicker than trying to put on a shirt on wet skin!
Most tri gear is meant to swim in, so just wear it under the wetsuit. If
it is a Non-wetsuit swim, as in Hawaii, then you can either swim in a
legal, “speedsuit” over your other race top/bottom, or wear a one piece
tri-suit. Other options are to “skin” it and then deal with putting on a
top with wet skin. (This is the last option, as it is NOT easy to pull on
a top when you are wet. Just try it).
***Have your run shoes out and ready. If you plan on wearing socks, then
have them ready as well. I put vasoline all around the inside of my run
shoes. I also have “lace locks”, or some other quick laces, so I don’t
have to tie my shoes. It is much quicker with lace locks. (Another easy
thing to practice at our weekly KP Brick Workout). I also have a hat
ready, as I like to wear a hat on the run. I sweat a lot, so it helps with
sweat getting in my eyes. A hat is also great in hot weather, like Hawaii,
as you can put ice cubes in the hat to keep your head cool. Visors are not
good for this.
***Have your nutrition ready to grab as you start the ride, or run. I
usually have a couple gels by my run shoes, as well as some extra salt
tablets, in case I need more, or should lose some on the bike. Depending
on the race distance, will determine how many gels/salt you will need.
***Fill all bottles before you go to the swim start. I like you to have at
least one bottle of just water and one of electrolyte drink. You can start
with your favorite drink, then take what they have on the course. Always
have one bottle of just water, as sweat/salt can get in your eyes and it
is nice to have water to wash them out. Your eyes can really burn from
sweat and water flushes it away.
***Put your sunscreen on before you swim. You shouldn’t have to put
sunscreen on in transition (unless you are doing an Ironman).
***I put a few gel packs in my rear Tri Top pockets before putting on my
wetsuit. They will stay in there for the swim, then you can get to them
while on the bike.
2) Transition 1 – T1 (Swim to Bike)
***As I am finishing the last 100 meters of the swim, I am going over my
quick transition in my head. First, I will RUN to my bike, not walk and as
I run to my bike, I am taking the top of my wetsuit off and have it to my
waste by the time I get to my bike. Once there, I will take the rest of
the wetsuit off, by stripping it as quickly as possible. I stand on one
part of the suit to get one leg out, then the other. This all takes just
seconds if you have a good wetsuit. I use the Aquaman wetsuit and it comes
off like butter.
***Once out of my wetsuit, I grab my sunglasses, put on and strap my
helmet and grab my bike and run out of transition. As I said before, I
have my shoes attached to the pedals. I get on my bike once past the mount
line and put on my shoes. If it is a longer race, I may also put some salt
tablets, or other nutrition in my pockets before grabbing my bike.
3) Transition 2 – T2 – (Bike to Run)
***As I am finishing the last few miles of the bike, I am preparing for
the run. I try and spin a little more, take a few sips of water and
stretch my back and maybe my calfs while still on the bike. I go through
the transition in my head and I prepare to get out of my shoes while on
the bike. This is another thing to practice before race day! (We practice
this just about every week at our KP Brick Workout on Tuesday’s). If you
don’t get out of your shoes while on the bike, then be ready to dismount
your bike before the dismount line. If you are out of your shoes, you will
run barefoot to your transition spot. If you have your shoes on, you will
hobble over to your transition spot and take your shoes off when you get
to your spot.
***Put your run shoes on quickly (put on socks if you need too), then grab
your race belt and hat and any gels/salt you may need for the run. I clip
my race belt as I run out of transition. Run number should face forward
for the run. You can either sit down, or stand up as you put your run
***Build into your run. Start out easy and build to a faster pace. I like
to take a gel as I run out of transition. Grab some water and get down to
business!! Have a great run and finish strong!!
Transitions are a key part of any triathlon! You can save a lot of time
by going fast through transitions! Practice makes perfect, so always
practice the quick transitions! Kain Performance members who are regulars
at our weekly KP Brick Workout on Tuesday nights are usually some of the
fastest out there! Test yourself and see if you can get faster in
transition this year! NO KAIN NO GAIN!!!!!
About Your Coach: Pete Kain is the Head Coach of Kain Performance
Multi-Sport! He has been racing triathlons since 1984 and has learned a
lot about how to be fast in transition! Many of the tips presented here
are after 28 years of perfecting the art of transition. He regularly has
some of the fastest transition times in any race. As he says, “transitions
are Free Time! You spend so much time on your swim stroke, bike position
and run mechanics, then waste precious time in transition, it does not
make sense”. Go out and have a great race and be fast in transition!! Many
races are won, or lost by saving precious seconds in transition.